Beatitude 5: Mercy Isn't Fair

“What do you mean, do nothing?” I was rather indignant standing on the top step of the stairway to the depths of my soul. My father was waiting below. He was waiting for me to come down; to spend some time talking with Him. But, He made me mad. And like any immature child would do, I stood my ground…and pouted.

As I stood there in my righteous indignation, I felt his loving gaze soften my heart as He reminded me of the times He extended mercy to me. He didn’t have to say anything. I remembered it all clearly.

He softly said, “I’m not bringing these things to your memory to make you feel guilty. Rather I’m teaching you how to be merciful.”

The weight of that statement: “Teaching you how to be merciful.”

He let it hang there for a moment.

Now, can you truly fathom extending mercy? Let’s discuss this for a moment because it's easy to extend mercy when it’s something for which you have little care. Someone doesn’t show up on time when they said they would. "Ah, it’s no big deal. We are all late from time to time." Or, what about the time a friend spoke negatively about you to others. It stung, but you’ve been found guilty of the same thing, so they get a pass.

But what about times when you are completely innocent. You did nothing, said nothing, thought nothing. And then it happened. Your feet are wiped out from under you. And there you lay, back to the floor, eyes to the sky…speechless…breathless.

There are a whirlwind of questions. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Who do they think they are? I’ll show them! The imaginary conversations with the perpetrators begin. And there are dozens of these conversations because we have so much to say that we’ll never get around to actually saying.

And our Father whispers, “Show them mercy. Pray for them. Serve them. Love them.”

Doesn't this mean the person who wronged me wins?

The answer to this question is best illustrated: Imagine our Father watching His only Son being brutally tortured and murdered. Then, having to turn His back because of the sin and shame His Son carried for all those who wronged Him.  

It’s easy, in our recollection of the crucifixion, to see the Pharisees and other religious leaders of that time as the enemies; as the ones who wronged Jesus. But, actually, it was us. We all wronged Jesus.

And Jesus had His moment where, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked the Father to take the cup of suffering from Him. After all, He hadn't done anything to deserve punishment and torture. It simply was not fair.

And mercy isn’t fair either.

I used to think being merciful was just “doing nothing,” and that often is a part of it. But Jesus demonstrates that being merciful also means taking on the punishment of the one(s) who wrong us.

In modern day America, this may not mean we actually are put to death, but we are called to pray for those who hurt us; to serve and love them. To go beyond simply “doing nothing.”

At this point, Jesus had walked me down the staircase to the deepest part of my soul. He didn't even wait for me to come, but rather, He came to get me. On the way down, He took the indignation I offered Him and replaced it with His love. He knew the job was too much for me. So, again, He did it for me. How can I not respond to love and mercy like that?

“Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.”  Matthew 5:7

Beatitude 4: Hunger and Thirst

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Think for a moment what it means to hunger for something. As Americans we have everything readily available to us; if we are hungry, we go to the fast-food joint on the corner and get a whole meal for $4. We don’t have to worry about where the next meal will come from or how to find food for our family. Not everyone has this luxury. Places like Guatemala, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Haiti all have in common a dangerously high poverty rate. Citizens in these nations go days, even weeks at a time, with little to no food; searching through trash and rubble for the smallest crumb to satisfy the twisting hunger in their stomach.

Thirsting. Our homes have access to city water, or we have a well outside pumping thirst-quenching water into our faucets. If we are thirsty, we grab a glass and fill it with the liquid that makes up 70% of our bodies. Again, the availability of conveniences to which we have access causes us to miss the appreciation of natural necessities. The example seen in poverty stricken nations should grab our attention.

Just as food and water are necessary commodities for our bodies, so our souls hunger and thirst for the gospel. We all have felt this craving, and Jesus is the only One who can satisfy.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). It’s not surprising that this hunger and thirst remind us of being “poor in spirit.” When we position ourselves to be poor in spirit, an aching develops in the deep recesses of who we are. We realize it’s not a normal type of poverty because nothing earthly satisfies. We realize how truly hungry and thirsty we are for what is real; for a water that will cause us never to thirst again. Contrary to hungering for earthly food or possessions, where we get delirious and faint until we get what we need or want, this hunger brings focus and clarity to seek what truly satisfies. We are completely dependent, yet completely free; empty yet filled, and thus, the beautiful paradox of the gospel. We can only be satisfied when we stay hungry.

-Josh Turner

Beatitude 3: The Power of Meekness


“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”

Think for just a moment of the cross. The cross is perfection; bloody, bruised, messy perfection. The sinless and spotless Lamb spilled His blood on the cross despite His perfect condition. And not only was this Lamb perfect, but this Lamb was all powerful. He had the ability to take Himself off the cross, yet He chose to stay and die for all of us who are dirty, broken, sinners.

Jesus knew that choosing to revoke His right to use His power in that moment, would result in a reward far greater than the temporary pain He suffered. Jesus understood that surrendering His power was not the same thing as weakness.

“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” – Philippians 2: 6-8

It was meekness.

When we think about the cross, we realize what a tall order it is to be meek. If we have the power to do something, why would we choose not to use it? Pride is our default reaction. Our natural instinct is to do what is in our power to do. To fix it according to our standards. To have it our way. Our initial instinct is about us. Quite simply, pride is about power and control. Pride is about “me”.

Meekness is just the opposite. It’s about surrendering control to the one who has ALL power. Meekness is not about being powerless, it’s about being lowly. It’s remaining teachable and demonstrating love and self-control. It’s preferring others above ourselves and acknowledging our ways are not best. Meekness is about Him and others.

Learning this lesson can be a hard pill to swallow. Those who attend church in America can be guilty of haughtiness – you know, thinking we’re better than someone else because we’re all powerful. We prefer everything to go our way and be exactly how we like it. When this doesn’t happen, we choose to exert our power over the situation and do something about it. We may make our opinion known or choose to leave and find somewhere else that appeases our appetites…for a while. Our experience as part of a church body becomes all about us. The songs have to be our musical style in order for us to participate in worship. The pastors have to speak in a style we like or we can’t “receive” anything. The church members (and even visitors) have to be dressed the way we would dress (i.e., look like us), or we tend to judge them. Basically, we want the power over all these things; to control the situation in our favor because we know best and deserve what we want. And so the motive of our heart is revealed. Yes, it is pride, and when we realize this is what’s inside of us, it is humbling.

Then we encounter (whether for the first time or the hundredth) the cross. We are faced with our sin and His glory. We mourn because we now understand that we deserve death, but He comforts us with life. It seems that when we finally “wake up” to the fact that He lowered Himself, not only to take the punishment for our disobedience, but also to give us a gift in its place, the response can only be meekness.

This encounter confronts the pride in our system with the glory of meekness.

Pride blinds us to what we are missing by shunning meekness. When we make our preference a prerequisite for worship, for trust in God, and for loving others, we are giving up our inheritance. But when we chose to humble ourselves and lay down our sense of entitlement, He will give us a much greater reward; we will inherit the earth! We trade in our likes, dislikes, and ideas…our power…to gain the entire world.

-Kelsey Kirk